Expat Alien: Book Excerpt

Moscow, Russia

Moscow, Russia

Chapter 8

Apartment 2 of 6

I was not looking forward to another move, but we found a new apartment that was much airier than the old one and Nicholas could have his own study to make his mess in. It was on the 14th floor and had a distant view of Red Square.  It was farther from the Metro but was also near to a large park. The bathroom was all in one room so more “western”.  The only problem was that it had ants that hung out around the faucets and there was no way to get rid of them.

On this occasion, several people helped us move. When the truck was loaded – three of us sat in the back of the truck and the driver tied the tarp down in the back and Nicholas rode up with the driver to navigate.  It was like the ride from hell.  Here we were in the dark, riding across Moscow with all this stuff (not tied down in any way).  Nicholas’ cousin Valery kept peeking out through a crack in the tarp giving us a running dialog of where we were, all in Russian of course.  Plus due to the enormous Russian potholes, I was airborne several times.

People in Moscow would rent out their apartments for one year, sometimes two, and move in with relatives someplace else.  They would save all the money they earned in rent and then use that money to renovate the apartment when they moved back in.  We lived in six different apartments in 9 years.  The landladies kept kicking us out when they were ready to move back in.

The air seemed to be cleaner in our new apartment and I couldn’t see one smoke stack.  At night we could look out the window and see St Basil’s and one of the Kremlin towers all lit up.

The second day we were there I filled up the kitchen sink to do the dishes.  When I was done I just pulled the plug and all the water went rushing down the drain and came pouring out all over my feet.  They had put new pipes into the sink but when it reached the old pipes going into the wall they didn’t fit together so they just rested the new pipe into the old one.  When water came pouring out all at once, it got backed up and overflowed. They didn’t finish the job correctly (no surprise there).  We called the landlady and she said she would call a plumber and come over the next day.  Well, I came home next evening and she had been here all right, and now there was a big rag neatly wrapped around the pipe!

One morning Nicholas was working at home and I left to go to work.  I got into the lift and hit the button for the bottom floor.  The lift moved in a jerky way.  It felt like it went up.  Then it stopped dead still.  I was on the 14th floor.  Panic.  I hit the intercom button not expecting anything to happen.  I hit it a couple of times.  A woman answered.  She wanted to know what my address was.  I told her.  I was screaming in a panic.  Somehow I managed to get her to understand me.  Pretty soon I heard somebody come to the landing.  I yelled at them and they could hear me.  I told them to go get my husband and gave the apartment number.  After a while, I heard Nicholas’ voice.  He said, I’ll be right back, I have to go get the video camera for this!  Lovely.  Finally a woman showed up, crawled in on top of the car and managed to get the door open.  I was just below the landing and was able to crawl out.  All caught on video.